The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert F. Kelly, District Judge.
Plaintiff Richard Johnson Honeyshine Shoe Express Services
("Johnson") previously filed a Complaint against U.S. Equity and
Amtrak, Johnson v. U.S. Equity and Amtrack [sic], U.S.
District Court E.D. Pa, No. 98cv2333 ("the First Action"). See
docket entries set forth as Exhibit "A" and the Complaint set
forth as Exhibit "B" to Defendants' motion.*fn1
In the First Action, Equity and Amtrak filed a Motion to
Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(5)
and 12(b)(6). In those motions, defendants moved to dismiss
Johnson's Complaint on the basis that it was improperly served;
that Johnson failed to state claims under the Sherman Act; that
Johnson failed to state a claim under the Clayton Act; that
Johnson failed to state claims for civil rights violations; that
Johnson failed to state a claim for a violation of his
Fourteenth Amendment due process rights; that Johnson failed to
state claims for breach of contract, conversion and wrongful
interference with contract. On September 30, 1998, this Court
entered an order dismissing Plaintiffs Complaint pursuant to
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and 12(b)(5). A copy
of that Order is set forth in Exhibit "E".
Johnson filed a new Complaint on March 28, 2000, eighteen (18)
months after the original action had been dismissed. That
Complaint was never served. Plaintiff then filed an Amended
Complaint on July 14, 2000. The Amended Complaint alleges that
Plaintiff is Richard Johnson Honeyshine Shoe Express Services.
(Amended Complaint at ¶ 1). The caption of the Amended Complaint
states that the Defendants are U.S. Equity Realty, Inc., the
National Railroad Passenger Services Corp., and Amtrak 30th
Street Station a/k/a 30th Street Market. Plaintiff sent a copy
of the Amended Complaint, along with a Summons issued for the
original Complaint in this action, to Equity and Amtrak by
express mail. The Amended Complaint and the Summons for the
original Complaint, were mailed to Equity at 30th Street
Station, 30th and market Streets, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,
19104; and to Defendant Amtrak at 30th Street Station, 5th Floor
South Tower, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19104.
The essence of Plaintiffs current Amended Complaint appears to
be that he had a shoe shine service at 30th Street Station in
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Amended Complaint at ¶ 2; that he
had a lease that was terminated on March 14, 1997, id. at ¶
20; that he had to make lease/rental payments because of threats
of lease cancellation in December of 1996, and was also noticed
with cancellation in January, February and March of 1997, id.
at ¶¶ 36-37; that he received letters of default "requesting
payment of rents on dates not with the lease agreement [,]"
id, at ¶ 49; that he was told he had not paid his November and
December 1996 rents but he stated that he was up to date, id.
at ¶ 42; that the shoe shine service at 30th Street Station was
subsequently operated by Amtrak or some third party with which
Amtrak and/or Amtrak's agents allegedly merged, id. at ¶¶
20-25, 27; that this new service operated from a different
space, a space that Plaintiff allegedly had previously requested
during the period of his lease, id. at ¶ 21; that Plaintiff
was told that there was someone from New York who could pay more
money for the shoeshine location, id. at ¶ 29; and Plaintiff
alleges that he was placed in default on January 10, 1997 id.
at ¶ 52.
The Amended Complaint also alleges that Plaintiff was hired by
Equity for a job for Amtrak's police in September, 1996, and was
paid in November with a postdated check. Id. at ¶¶ 50-52. He
also claims that it was misrepresented to him that someone else
was the private owner of his shoeshine stand, although he had
allegedly acquired this sight at 30th Street
Station as a result of abandonment. Id. at ¶¶ 53-56.
The averments of the Amended Complaint in the present action
involve the same operative facts as the Complaint in the First
Action. Paragraph 1 of the Complaint in the First Action alleges
that Equity and Amtrak conspired to steal Plaintiffs business on
March 14, 1997 — the same date and event alleged in the Amended
Complaint; and that the business went to a third party.*fn2
Plaintiff makes the same allegations in the First Action
concerning cancellation of the lease on that date, and there
being a third party who could pay a higher rent. First Action
Complaint at ¶ 6. Plaintiff alleges in the First Action that the
Defendants' "predatory action" resulted in his loss of income
and mental distress. Id. at ¶ 2. Plaintiff alleges the same
misrepresentation concerning the ownership and abandonment of
the shoeshine location. Id. at ¶¶ 3-4. As in the Amended
Complaint, the First Action Complaint claims violations of the
Sherman Act, Sections 1 and 2, conversion, wrongful interference
with business relations or contract, disparagement of
reputation, along with the other claims described above, all of
which were dismissed in the First Action.
In addition to the above referred to federal court actions,
Johnson also initiated an action against the Defendants in the
Philadelphia Municipal Court. Johnson v. U.S. Equities Realty,
Inc. and The National Railroad Passenger Corp. d/b/a Amtrak,
Philadelphia Municipal Court, Statement of Claim 990521 2133.
See Exhibit "M". In that action, Johnson alleged that he entered
into a contract to rent space for his business; that he was
wrongfully billed; that he paid too much rent; that he received
default notices; that his contract was terminated on March 14,
1997; and that he was entitled to monies because of these
events. In that action, judgment was entered for Defendants.
See Exhibit "N".
Defendant first contends that Plaintiffs claims are barred
under the doctrine of claim preclusion. "Federal law of claim
preclusion requires a defendant to demonstrate that there has
been (1) a final judgment on the merits in a prior suit
involving (2) the same parties or their privies and (3) a
subsequent suit based on the same cause of action." The
Lubrizol Corp. v. Exxon Corp., 929 F.2d 960, 963 (3d Cir.
1991), cert. den., 506 U.S. 864, 113 S.Ct. 186, 121 L.Ed.2d
131 (1992). In determining whether the same cause of action is
involved, the courts look to "essential similarity of the
underlying events giving rise to the various legal claims."
Id. (Citation omitted). The rationale is that a plaintiff
should "present in one suit all claims for relief that he may
have arising out of the same transaction or occurrence." Id.
(citation omitted). Criteria for determining the similarity of
the two actions include: (1) "whether the acts complained of
were the same", (2) "whether the material facts alleged in each
suit were the same", (3) "whether the witnesses and
documentation required to prove such allegations were the same".
Id. (citation omitted). The fact that new theories of recovery
find their way into the second action will not prevent claim
preclusion where the underlying similarities exist. Id.
It is clear that the Amended Complaint in the present action
is barred under the doctrine of claim preclusion. This Court's
Order of September 30, 1998 was a Final Judgment in the First
Action. The Plaintiff and Defendant were the same. The causes of
action are the same. Although Plaintiff attempts to assert a new
legal theory, i.e., the RICO allegations, this new theory does
not bar application of claim preclusion. The central underlying
acts complained of and the material facts alleged in the First
Action Complaint are found in the Amended Complaint. Both
actions would require the same witnesses and documentation in
order to establish the same facts.
For these reasons alone, we will dismiss the Amended Complaint
In addition to the above, the Municipal Court Judgment between
the same parties provides an additional basis for the
application of claim preclusion as to Johnson's Amended
Complaint. Where a party seeks to preclude litigation of issues
in federal court which the party avers have already been decided
in a state court judgment, a federal court must look to the
state's law regarding collateral estoppel and issue preclusion
to determine the effect the federal court should give to the
state court judgment. See Bailey v. Ness, 733 F.2d 279, 281
(3d Cir. 1984). Under Pennsylvania law, the final judgment
between Johnson and Defendants in the Municipal Court action
bars him from bringing the same claims in this case that were
raised or that could have been raised in the Municipal Court
action. See, Urrutia v. Harrisburg County Police Dept.,
91 F.3d 451, 461 (3d Cir. 1996) (general principles of claim
preclusion) (citations omitted). Therefore, any claims for
payments of the same monies, based on the same facts, under
whatever legal theory, are barred if they could have been ...